John 5:14 – “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”
Shut the front door!
Lord, my first reaction on hearing this statement is one of “shock and awe” because I know myself. To ask me to stop sinning is like asking me to sleep three hours a night. I might be able to pull that off for a few days, but then the needs of the flesh will trump my good intentions and I’ll be back to hitting the snooze button!
I must be misunderstanding this directive because I know that You know me. You know every area where I struggle with sin. I’ll get one area under control with Your help and then the next area pops up that needs restoration. I may be redeemed, but I’m still in need of tremendous restoration in so many ways!
So I guess to understand the directive, I have to look at the statement before it. You say that I am well. If I am well, then my mindset should be one of being complete, whole and lacking nothing. If I become a student of “Shalom” (the word Shalom means “whole and lacking nothing”) and investigate what that looks like, how I see myself will change.
When my self-realization is one of wholeness then all of the sins that spawn out of my brokenness will be revealed as the useless substitutes that they are. After all, we only choose substitutes over the authentic when we think they will benefit us in some way. And if you give me the command to “stop sinning”, then it must be possible!
- Can you imagine yourself no longer sinning?
- What are the areas that trip you up the most?
- Do you notice patterns?
In my life, I notice patterns of sin. And within those patterns lie the clues of the root causes for those sins. As I stated above, we cling to our substitutes when we believe that they benefit us.
For instance, if I have a pattern of over-indulging in food at the end of the day, then what is the benefit I draw from that over-indulgence? Do I feel that the food comforts me after dealing with a long and stressful day? Is that real comfort or a cheap substitute? What about when I judge someone after they have wounded me? Do I feel that my judgment balances the scales that have become imbalanced by the weight of their injustice or by the way that they have disappointed me? Is that true justice or a cheap substitute?
I think you see the pattern here. But if Jesus has truly made us well, then we don’t need those substitutes, those false crutches. I can stop over-eating when I go to the Lord for comfort at the end of a long day. I can find healthy alternatives to over-indulgence of the flesh and ask for accountability if I need it. I can lay down my judgment and anger aimed at those who have hurt and disappointed me, because I know that I am not going to change them, only the Lord is, and he doesn’t answer prayers rooted in pride! If I am truly well, then I can trust that God will right every wrong and that He will deal with those who have hurt me, in His timing and in His way.
And that, I believe, is how we’re going to stop sinning so that worse problems don’t come upon us. We are going to walk in the knowledge of Who God is and who we are in Christ. And we are not allow cheap substitutes to walk in the front door of our hearts and rob us blind. Shut the front door!